Japanese rider duels it out before crossing the line in fourth
Yuki Kunii led the Junior Talent Team charge on race day at Estoril, converting a Row 2 start into a finish just narrowly missing out on the podium in fourth. Kunii battled it out to the end, but finishes the first weekend of the season with some solid points nevertheless. Thai teammate Somkiat Chantra, meanwhile, also got his season off to a good start as he took ninth and began 2018 in the top ten.
Conditions were difficult in Portugal, with high winds and some initial rain on Sunday morning. But it had dried out for the first race of the FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ World Championship season, and it was a classic battle; the style of which has come to define the class. Off the line it was polesitter and eventual winner Manuel Pagliani setting the pace, but the Junior Talent Team riders of Kunii and Tom Booth-Amos were well in the battle until the end. Although Kunii took fourth at the flag, it was a more difficult end of the day for new Brit on the block Booth-Amos, as he crashed out of contention.
However, Booth-Amos had an impressive P2 start on his debut and fought hard in an impressive showing of pace that he’ll be wanting to repeat next time out at Valencia. Likewise Ai Ogura, although he suffered a crash, and Gerry Salim, who also failed to finish.
After a weekend of the Junior Talent Team proving protagonists throughout, it’s a good omen for the year as the outfit head off from Estoril. Now it’s time for the Circuit Ricardo Tormo at the end of April – somewhere more familiar for Booth-Amos, and a track that will see each of the Junior Talent Team gunning for the front once more.